Monday, March 31, 2014

Pear & Spring Onion Salad with a Tarragon Dijon Vinaigrette

Despite yesterday's weather, I'm convincing myself that Spring must really be here because SPRING ONIONS have arrived!  It's almost as awesome as the springtime arrival of asparagus.  Almost.  If this is your first encounter and you've been eyeing those giant sprouty things suspiciously, fear not because you are in for an awesome treat.  It's like a two for one deal with spring onions, because you get the green part which are somewhere between a chive and a leek, and then the bulb which is like, well, an onion.  But a delicate and sweet one.  Plus, the ones in this week's Crop Share are Vidalia spring onions, so that means even more sweetness.  I know for sure I'll be using two of the bundle to make my favourite Chicken In A Spring Onion Cream Sauce (is amazing over meaty fish like salmon or swordfish too!), but I made myself reserve one of the bundle to experiment with.  On Saturday we got a call that afternoon from some friends to come over for dinner, and since you should never show up to a dinner party empty handed, I decided to whip up a salad from among the Crop Share ingredients I just brought home.  And thus the following yummy and crisp salad was born!  So if you're sheepish about the spring onions, let this salad be your gateway drug into spring onion mania!

Pear & Spring Onion Salad with a Tarragon Dijon Vinaigrette


1/2 cup sliced almonds, unsalted
1 Tbsp local honey
1 head leaf lettuce, chopped
1 Vidalia spring onion, ends trimmed and diced (both green and white parts)
2 pears, cored & thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (I used some of the delicious Chardonnay White Wine Vinegar from Virginia Vinegar Works that's available at Nalls)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried tarragon

In a skillet over medium heat, toss almond slivers with honey to evenly coat and toast almonds until golden brown.  You'll want to keep a close watch and stir fairly often to prevent any almonds from burning.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, diced spring onion, pear slices and cooled, honey almonds (you'll likely have to break them apart as when they cool they turn into almond candy).

Then in a medium sized bowl, briskly whisk together oil, vinegar and dijon until you have a smooth, creamy dressing.  Add in salt, pepper and tarragon and whisk to fully incorporate.  Pour as much or as little of the dressing over the salad as desired, toss to coat and serve.

Makes a wonderful side salad with dinner, or add in some grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon to turn this into a complete meal.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cooking Up Something New!

We're getting a new look tonight here in Nalls' Kitchen, and apparently we're feeling a bit retro chic!

But one great new addition, is...the Pin It button!  Whether you're using Google as your browser and it magically appears when you wave your cursor past a photo or you use the Pinterest button in the social share line at the bottom of each post, we've now made pinning from Nalls' Kitchen much more user friendly!

The old format was great, but did not like to play nice with Pinterest.  So out with the old and in with the new!

You can now also one-click share our posts to Facebook and Twitter, send it in an e-mail, or recommend it on Google+.

I can't resist a Barefoot Contessa quote...

How simple is that?!

Happy sharing, and don't forget to stalk us, social medially that is, via our pages on
  Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter!

And if you're looking for that social share line for all your one-click sharing needs, it's gonna live right here in every post...

I Dip, You Dip, We Dip: Ricotta, Gorgonzola & Honey Apple Dip

Oh I'm on fire with the corny blog titles tonight!  Watch out now!

A few years ago, my childhood bestie and Barefoot Contessa fangirl, Miss Katie Jane (no Jane is not her middle or even last name, but for some reason my family always called her that) had a pre-Christmas cookie exchange/lots of wine & appetizers night.  I remember this night for two very distinct reasons.  1.)  It was the night that the Mister presented me with my wedding ring (we'd been engaged for over a month, because I'm the kind of gal who could care less about diamond and rings until they arrive and I'm all oooooo it's shiny!), and 2.) RICOTTA...GORGONZOLA...HONEY...DIP.  The night you get your wedding ring is a pretty big honkin' deal, so you know that dip had to be gooooood.  And the way Katie served it and I continue to serve it, is always with slices of crisp apples.  Because then you feel all healthy when you're eating an entire bowl of fancy cheese

So since we're getting more glorious apples this week in the Crop Share, what better way to enjoy them then dipped in some delicious dip.  Plus, honey is a major player in this dip, so snag some local honey while you're in to pick up your Crop Share, and get a jump on fighting seasonal allergies!  I also tend to think this dip would be really good slathered on burgers, so if you're breaking out your grill this weekend (I've given up looking at the forecast, is it going to snow, rain, be summer, or locusts?) then have some dip with some apples, slather some on a burger with the green leaf lettuce as a garnish.  Basically, I've now made you all crave juicy hamburgers, haven't I?  Ooo, even some lamb burgers with super thin slices of apple and this dip slathered on.  Okay, okay, I'm stopping!

Ricotta, Gorgonzola & Honey Apple Dip

1 15 oz carton of part-skim ricotta
6 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp dried thyme (use 1/2 tsp if using fresh)
1/8 tsp dried rosemary (use 1/4 tsp if using fresh)
1 heaping Tbsp local honey
2-3 apples, sliced
Lemon juice

In a medium sized bowl, using a hand mixer, whip up the ricotta until nice and smooth.  About 2-3 minutes.  Then fold in gorgonzola, herbs and honey, mixing until fully blended.  Transfer to a smaller bowl for serving, cover and let chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, up to a full 24 hours.

Slice apples shortly before you're ready to serve.  Toss apple slices in some lemon juice to help prevent browning, and serve with the dip.

Calling All Cauliflower!

Some of you may remember last Fall when I undertook my Adventures in Cauliflower in hopes of coming to, at the very least, a truce with my most hated of vegetables.  In the end I was able to find a recipe that allowed me to eat it without wincing.  That recipe required "ricing" the cauliflower into tiny microscopic pieces and transforming it into "coconut sticky rice."  I was able to eat it because it didn't at all taste like cauliflower, but it also had an unexpected was my cauliflower gateway drug!  Can I eat a raw piece of cauliflower now?  NO.  The thought still feels like a human rights violation.  But I now find myself sneaking it into recipes, just because.  I'm considering whether or not to seek professional treatment for this, because I don't quite trust this change that has occurred.  So while I psychoanalyze myself, enjoy some of our cauli-favorites, that yes, even I have come to fully embrace...

Bayou-ish Jambalaya with Blackened Cauliflower

Squash Cauliflower Soup via Crop Share Member Louise B

Roasted Winter Vegetable Medley (or throw any veggies in!)

Curried Cauliflower & Chickpea Bake

Pumpkin Chicken Curry Over Cauliflower Coconut Sticky "Rice"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Curried Chickpeas, Potatoes & Collards

As local comedian Remy once rapped, "Hit me, hit me, with a little chickpea!"  While he was talking about hummus, I can pretty much agree, all chickpeas should come my way in any shape or form.  They do look like cute little elf butts, which actually is disturbing if I ponder it too long.  Anywho!  I found myself in yet another raid on my pantry to try and concoct something from the random ingredients I had on hand.  I refused to make a grocery run just so I could make lunch for myself, and there was that lonely can of chickpeas in the pantry that had been let down so many times lately when I didn't reach for it.  Not today, today chickpeas you will be chosen!  I grabbed some Dizzy Pig Curry-ish seasoning (snag some in the store at Nalls!), a small can of tomato paste, and wishes and hopes for a yummy dish.  Then it dawned on me...use...the...collards!  Collards are hands down my favorite greens.  That's right kale, you've been replaced!  Soon I had a simmering curry on my stove, chock full of chickpeas, collards and potatoes, and oh it did not disappoint.  Can of chickpeas, your sacrifice was acceptable!

Curried Chickpeas, Potatoes & Collards

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 baking potato, cubed
1 bundle collards, removed from stem and torn
15 oz can chickpeas
3 Tbsp Dizzy Pig's Curry-ish seasoning or other curry blend
6 oz can tomato paste
3 cups water

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add in potatoes and cook for about 4 minutes until you start to get just a little golden brown on some of the potatoes.  Toss in collards in batches and allow to wilt down, and be careful as they love to snap, crackle and pop in the oil, so you may want to grab a lid for the skillet just for safety (SHIELD WALL!!!).

Once collards are fully wilted, stir in chickpeas and cook for about 2 minutes.  Then add in your curry powder and tomato paste, stirring to fully coat everything and allow it to brown just slightly on the bottom of the pan.

Stir in water, making sure to scrape any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a slight boil, cover,  lower heat and allow to continue simmering for at least 30 minutes.  Add more water if sauce seems to thick or allow to simmer longer if sauce seems to watery.  Remove from heat and serve as is or serve over top of quinoa, with naan, or over rice.

Sauteed Cabbage & Potatoes via Tash's Noshes

As promised in the previous post, here's some more from Crop Share member Natasha's healthy food blog, Tash's Noshes.  She did a figure friendly take on cabbage & potatoes with the contents of our St. Patrick's day boxes.  So if you're still staring down that cabbage or have leftover potatoes (on top of the even MORE potatoes we all got this week, hooray!!) give this recipe a nosh!  For all of you runners out there (Lord knows I am NOT one of them, the only thing in my life that runs is my stockings), especially those of you who have done or are planning on running in the Marine Corps Marathon this year, this lovely lady is "fundracing" on behalf of Back On My Feet DC for this year's MCM.    So absolutely run over to BoMF's website to check out the amazing work they do with those in our community transitioning from homelessness, addiction and abuse (even consider getting involved!), and then if you are so led, consider throwing some coinage towards Tash's fundracing efforts on her official fundracing page!  

And as a bonus (and a slight teaser on the next recipe I'll be posting), check out how she used up the delicious pears in this protein packed salad, perfect for a Meatless Monday lunch...

Arugula & Pear Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Lemony Shrimp & Broccoli Over Roasted Cabbage

One good thing about being gluten free is it really forces you to rethink bases for dishes.  You can't throw everything into a pita or onto just any ol' pasta. While I've found some incredible GF pasta's, and there's always the good ol' standbyes of rice or quinoa, I like to get creative with veggies to take the place of traditional starches.  Thanks to my friend Natasha (check her out over at Tash's Noshes - and we'll see more from her in a little bit), I'm OBSESSED with "zoodles."  Zucchini sliced thin into noodles and cooked up with just a titch of olive oil and then dressed as you would any pasta.  But the other veggie that has become my jam for a base is...cabbage.  I'm pretty well convinced that I could eat anything if it was put on top of roast cabbage ribbons.  So when I got to the end of the week and I still hadn't used up the cabbage from our St. Patrick's Day boxes (I know, I should be arrested by the Irish police for not making cabbage-something last weekend), I knew I needed to act fast.  I'd thawed out some shrimp and we had that lovely broccoli, so I vowed to somehow make all these things play nice together.  And play nice they did!

Lemony Shrimp & Broccoli Over Roasted Cabbage

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 broccoli crown, chopped
Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
2 lbs shrimp, fully cooked and thawed
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
Dash of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
See Simple Roasted Cabbage for cabbage portion of recipe

Start preheating your oven and prep your cabbage, according to the above recipe, so that it can cook while you whip up the rest of the dish.

In a skillet over medium high heat, heat your olive oil and then add your garlic.  Cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add in your broccoli and cherry tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and skin begins to peel, about 5 minutes.  Add in shrimp and toss to fully incorporate, then add your lemon zest and juice and stir to blend all the flavors.  Cook for an additional minute or two, just long enough to heat shrimp fully through.  Season with red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.

Serve over top of the roasted cabbage.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spicy Pear Tart

If there's one thing I developed during my time in Ireland, it was a deep and abiding love for tarts.  Most of this thanks can go to Queen of Tarts in Dublin, but seriously, I never met an Irish tart I didn't like.  Wait...that came out wrong.  Pastry, I'm talking about pastry!!  Whether sweet or savory, they were all fantastic.  So naturally, upon returning stateside I had to develop my own penchant for tart making as a trans-Atlantic flight is a bit much to fulfill a craving.

We're getting pears in the Crop Share this week, and thus, a pear tart must happen.  You could go one route and make a pear tart using our handy-dandy, all-purpose, No-Fail Tart Crust Recipe, and instead of almond extract use a heavy hand with some vanilla.  Mmmm!  Or, we can all dip back into the pages of The New Irish Table by Margaret M. Johnson and enjoy her take on a pear tart.  If you're a fan of pineapple upsidedown cake, this will remind you somewhat of that except it remains right-side up.  Pretty sure I'll be giving a gluten and egg free go of this for Monday!

Spicy Pear Tart

1 cup light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
4 pears, peeled and cored
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup canola oil

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.  Wrap a 10 inch springform pan with aluminum foil, to prevent any leaking.

In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until the butter and sugar have caramelized.  Pour the caramel into the prepared springform pan and set aside.

Take one of the pears and grate it into large shreds.  Slice the remaining pairs to about 1/4" thickness.

In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients.  In a separate, larger, bowl, beat the eggs and oil together, then stir in the shredded pear.  Stir in your dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Pour into pan over top of caramel.  Arrange the sliced pears on top in a fan pattern (see above photo).

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the base is bubbly and the pears are soft.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly before releasing sides of pan and removing the ring.

Slice and serve warm.

Salmon With Vegetables In Herb Butter Sauce

In Dublin's fair city, Molly Malone may have wheeled about her cart of cockles and mussels (alive, alive, oh!), but she might as well have been wheeling about fillets of salmon for as much as the Irish consume of this meaty, delightful fish.  That's one of the benefits of being an island, all the seafood, all the time!  And while most of us think of fish & chips when it comes to Irish seafood, that's like portraying all American cuisine as just McDonald's.  Those folks know their fishies, and how to best prepare them, and one of my all time favorite recipes comes from Margaret M. Johnson's cookbook The New Irish Table.  In a bit of a twist on a surf & turf, she tops some wine and butter poached salmon with veggies from the land and the sea. I'll spare you having to hunt down dried sea vegetables, and just stick with lovely land based ones.  But this is one dish that is sure to be a winner, winner, St. Patrick's Day dinner!

Salmon With Vegetables In Herb Butter Sauce

2 Tbsp dry white wine
1/2 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bay leaf
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup spinach, coarse chopped
4 salmon fillets, about 5-6 ounces a piece
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp parsley, minced
1 Tbsp chives, minced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saute pan, heat the white wine over medium heat until reduced by half.  Add in the fish stock/clam juice, lemon juice, bay leaf, and all the vegetables from the carrots thru the spinach.  Place the salmon on top of the vegetables, cover the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the salmon is cooked thru.  Transfer the salmon to a plate to keep warm, and into the pan add your butter and stir till well blended.  Then stir in your herbs, salt & pepper, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Serve each piece of salmon with a generous spoonful of the vegetables and butter sauce.

Wearin' O' The Green!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  No, I didn't just flashback a few months to Christmas.  St. Patrick's Day is upon us and it gives myself and every other Irish American the chance to be completely obnoxious about how Irish we are.  And it's the one day of the year everyone wants to be us!  Take that kids who made fun of my red hair and held me down while you played connect the dots with my freckles!  So if you're lucky enough to be Irish, you're lucky enough.  But if you're not, then allow me to lovingly carry you through the mists and the fog of traditional, yet delicious Irish cuisine.  Yes, it's a lot of cabbage and potatoes, but the Irish have always done seasonal and local, the rest of us are just catching up to how delicious it can be.

So to whet your appetite, pour yourself a nice cuppa tea (or a whiskey) and enjoy these traditional oldies but goodies from the library of Nalls' Kitchen...


Leek & Potato Soup

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ginger Beef with Green Beans & Mushrooms

Last Friday I whipped up the Szechuan Noodles with Cabbage & Broccoli and you know if you've made it before, it makes a TON of sauce, so you always have about a l/2 pint of it in reserve to use for another dish.  I'd always thought it would make an amazing beef marinade, so I gave it a whirl!  Knowing we were getting green beans in the Crop Share, I couldn't resist grabbing a pint of mushrooms, to turn this into a spicy and fragrant version of some homemade Chinese take-away.  So if you're looking at this week's green beans and all you can think of is green bean casserole, then plan to give your favorite Chinese restaurant the night off and whip up your own take-away at home!

Ginger Beef with Green Beans & Mushrooms


1.5 lbs thin sliced beef (I used eye of round)
Half of the Szechuan Noodles sauce (see recipe here)
2" knob of ginger, minced
1 pint mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 lb green beans (about half the bag from the Crop Share), rinsed and ends snapped
1 Tbsp chili oil
Noodles or rice for serving, we used rice noodles for gluten-free

In a large bowl, toss the beef, sauce and minced ginger to fully coat the beef.  Cover and place in fridge to chill and marinate for at least 1 hour.

Once beef has marinated, remove from fridge and allow to come up to room temp while you prep your mushrooms and green beans.

In a large skillet or wok, heat chili oil over high heat.  Once oil is hot, toss in mushrooms and green beans (taking care to watch our for oil splatters) and cook for about 1-2 minutes, continually stirring or tossing with tongs to prevent burning.  Then add in your beef and all of the sauce and ginger,  and cook until you can no longer see pink on the beef and meat is just slightly browned.  It's best to use tongs to help stir and toss at this point.  Remove immediately from heat and serve with rice or noodles.  We stirred our rice noodles into the skillet and allowed to sit for a few minutes to allow the sauce to flavor the noodles.

Estofado de Pollo: Chicken Stew

If you can somehow keep yourself from just boiling up this week's corn and not just eating piles of corn on the cob, then reserve the kernels from 4 of the ears and get ready to whip up a quick, Mexican style stew, that is perfect served with some tortillas to sop it all up.  You can add another cup or 2 of liquid and a Tbsp of tomato paste if you want to really turn this into a soup style stew, otherwise think of this as more of a pulled pork consistency but with more tomatoes and corn than you can shake a stick at.  I love to lay out some of the tortillas on a platter and spoon the stew over top to serve this family style.  You could even use this as a stuffing for any baked enchiladas or taquitos, or serve it with large leaf lettuce for some healthy lettuce wraps!

Estofado de Pollo: Chicken Stew

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, diced
4 ears corn, cooked and removed from cob
1 chipotle chili in adobo, diced
1 small can salsa verde
2 cups yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (great for using up leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (optional)
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime
Corn tortillas

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in garlic and saute for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  Add in diced tomatoes and corn and stir to blend.  Toss in 1 diced chipotle chili, with about 1 tsp of the adobo sauce, and then your salsa verde and the rest of your tomatoes.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes and then pour in chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and simmer down for about 4-5 minutes.  If you're making this more of a soup type stew, add in 2-3 cups of stock plus 1 Tbsp of tomato paste, and simmer also for 4-5 minutes.

Stir in your shredded chicken, and season with salt & pepper to taste.  You can either stir in any cheese to help thicken the sauce, or use it as a garnish over top.  Garnish top of stew with cilantro and the juice of 1/2 a lime.  Serve with corn tortillas to scoop up the stew.